At the break of dawn, Wang Juru heads to her tea garden tucked away in a lush green mountain. The tender tea leaves there will guarantee a handsome income for her family. In 2013, Wang started growing 3.33 hectares of tea before opening a tea processing workshop. Her hand-made tea can fetch up to 800 yuan (about 126 U.S. dollars) per kilo.
Wang is a resident of Maona, a Li ethnic village in the city of Wuzhishan, south China’s Hainan Province. It sits amid mountain valleys and streams. Poor transportation and little arable land severely stymied local agricultural development in the past.
“Villagers used to make a living by bird-hunting and exploiting the mountain terrain for land,” said Wang Youshou, secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) village branch of Maonao, which administers Maona. “Some people lived in thatched cottages.”
In 2013, local authorities guided villagers to grow tea in Wuzhishan, which gradually transformed fortunes in the locality.
“We require that CPC members and cadres play leading roles in rural vitalization,” Wang Youshou said.
Green shoots of prosperity
Wuzhishan has a big difference between day and night temperatures and is always shrouded in mist, making it a perfect place for tea plantation.
Locals used to pick wild tea leaves for their families or sell them in the market on a small scale. Without scale plantations, villagers couldn’t rake in profits from the tea industry. In 2013, under the guidance of the local government, villagers began a new phase of life in tea gardens.
“The government invested in local infrastructure such as roads and irrigation facilities,” Wang Youshou said. “The government also supplied tea plant seedlings and fertilizer.”
So far, the local tea plantation area has expanded significantly, while several tea-processing factories also sprang up.
As the government helped to beautify rural areas, the village of Maona began to draw outside tourists with its rainforest scenes and the Li ethnic culture. The tourists drink tea and buy tea and other agricultural products, which increase the locals’ income.
“Currently, our annual per capita disposable income has exceeded 15,000 yuan,” said the village official.
As rural vitalization gains steam, the old, dilapidated houses in Maona made way for spacious and bright new ones. All roads within and leading to the village have been cemented, and a wide bridge has replaced an old, small one which was often submerged by water.
The local government has also built a sight-seeing hall and a public square, transforming Maona into a tourist spot that incorporates leisure activities such as camping, stargazing, and tea drinking.
“People here live prosperous lives through hard work,” Wang Youshou said.